Looking for redemption in a globalised North: representations of the Arctic in Judith Hermann’s Short Stories Kaltblau (Cold –Blue) and Die Liebe zu Ari Oskarsson (Love for Ari Oskarsson)

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Abstract

This paper explores the literary representation of Iceland and Norway in two short stories by contemporary German writer Judith Hermann. It analyses both the depiction of these countries as part of the globalised western world and the redemptive power they are tentatively ascribed by the author. Continuing a long German tradition of looking at Scandinavia from an almost colonial perspective, Hermann on the one hand presents these northern countries as a mere extension of central Europe, largely devoid of distinguishing national characteristics. At the same time she makes reference to the topos of the north as a vast and empty space and highlights both the specific arctic nature of the environment and the effect it has on her urban characters, who find themselves on a search for meaning and orientation in a postmodern fragmented world. Despite Hermann's overall sceptical attitude towards her characters' quest for happiness, these northern locations ultimately appear as potential places of self-realisation and enlightenment.
LanguageEnglish
Pages119-130
Number of pages12
JournalNordlit
Volume23
Publication statusPublished - 2008
EventArctic Discourses Conference - Tromsø, Norway
Duration: 21 Feb 200823 Feb 2008

Fingerprint

Redemption
Cold
Arctic
Short Story
Iceland
Self-realization
Scandinavia
Topos
German Writer
Colonies
Happiness
National Characteristics
Norway
Enlightenment
Central Europe

Bibliographical note

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike

Keywords

  • Judith Hermann
  • contemporary German literature
  • depictions of the North
  • German-Scandinavian cultural relations
  • German studies

Cite this

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abstract = "This paper explores the literary representation of Iceland and Norway in two short stories by contemporary German writer Judith Hermann. It analyses both the depiction of these countries as part of the globalised western world and the redemptive power they are tentatively ascribed by the author. Continuing a long German tradition of looking at Scandinavia from an almost colonial perspective, Hermann on the one hand presents these northern countries as a mere extension of central Europe, largely devoid of distinguishing national characteristics. At the same time she makes reference to the topos of the north as a vast and empty space and highlights both the specific arctic nature of the environment and the effect it has on her urban characters, who find themselves on a search for meaning and orientation in a postmodern fragmented world. Despite Hermann's overall sceptical attitude towards her characters' quest for happiness, these northern locations ultimately appear as potential places of self-realisation and enlightenment.",
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